Football: Lions slump to 2-1 Asian Cup qualifier defeat against Chinese Taipei

Hariss Harun (left) squares off with Chen Hao-Wei at the Asian Cup Group E qualifier at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
Hariss Harun (left) squares off with Chen Hao-Wei at the Asian Cup Group E qualifier at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday, June 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Although favoured to win, the Lions suffered an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat by Chinese Taipei in an Asian Cup Group E qualifier at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday (June 10) evening.

The Lions took an early lead in the sixth minute when skipper Hariss Harun leapt in the box to nod home Shahdan Sulaiman's corner kick.

But the visitors equalised in the 30th minute through defender Chen Tsan-Yuan, who lashed a fierce first-time volley past the dive of goalkeeper Hassan Sunny after a free-kick was not cleared.

Although the hosts enjoyed superior possession, the visitors were dangerous on the counter-attack.

And Chinese Taipei proved this with an incisive move down the left which saw a cross floated in and midfielder Chen Chao-An had the easy task of nodding into an unguarded net.

In the closing stages, Singapore went for the direct ball game, hitting high balls towards forwards Safuwan Baharudin and Khairul Nizam, and Irfan Fandi, who pushed up from defence.

But no clear-cut opportunities were created.

With this defeat, Singapore now have one point from two games in the qualifying campaign. In March, the Lions started with a creditable 0-0 against Bahrain in Manama.

The Lions are ranked 157th in the world by Fifa while Chinese Taipei are placed three rungs lower.

Turkmenistan and Bahrain are the other two teams in Group E.

The top two nations from the quartet will qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup finals held in the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from qualifying directly as hosts in the 1984 edition, Singapore have never reached the finals on merit.